Bo McMullian

Bo McMullian

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Political Forum, political debate scheduled for July

In July, just a few weeks before the August 30 Primary elections for 2016, the public will have two chances to hear from the candidates, in order to help voters make up their minds about who they wish to represent them in government.  The first event, sponsored by the Jackson County TIMES, the Jackson County Cattlemen’s Association, Farm Credit of Northwest Florida,  the Jackson County Farm Bureau and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, is scheduled for Tuesday, July 26 at 5:30 p.m.  The second event, sponsored by the Jackson County NAACP, is scheduled for Sunday, July 31, at 5 p.m.

The first event, the Forum, is open to all candidates; the second event, the Debate sponsored by the NAACP, is limited to candidates for county commission and superintendent of schools.
At the first event on July 26, all candidates will be given three minutes to speak at Chipola College’s Prough Arts Center, located at the Caverns Road/Prough Drive intersection.  A meet and greet will take place from 5:30-6 p.m. and the Forum will take place from 6 to 8 p.m.  There will not be any questions, event organizers say, and the three-minute limit will be strictly enforced. A capacity crowd is expected. Candidates will speak by political race starting with local or county races and followed by state and then federal races. Candidates will speak in alphabetical order by last name. 

A representative of the Florida Farm Bureau will MC the Forum and the TIMES will be responsible for publicity.  The Cattlemen’s Association, Farm Credit and the chamber will organize the event.  A comprehensive program guide will be published by the TIMES which will be not only distributed at the event but published as an insert in the newspaper the week before the event.  All candidates who wish to be included in the program guide may contact Shelia Mader at 850-718-6674.  The ad deadline is July 5.  The newspaper also can be reached at .

The July 31 event hosted by the NAACP will take place at 5 p.m. at the Jackson County Agriculture Center on US Hwy 90 West.  The NAACP is inviting everyone to submit questions to Jackson County NAACP, P.O. Box 525, Marianna, Fla., 32447 or by email: . The deadline for question submission is July 24.  For more information, call 850-696-0599.  The “Candidate Debate” is for those running for school superintendent or county commission only.  The event will be moderated by Ronstance Pittman and Royce Reagan.

State tests show mixed results for Jackson District schools

The Florida Department of Education released the results of recent End of Course (EOC) and Florida Standards (FSA) testing last week, showing mixed results for Jackson District schools; some did well and finished above state averages and some grades or schools performed below the state average level. 

“It depends on which principal you talk to,” District testing coordinator Shirl Williams said. The TIMES on Monday obtained a list of the general results from each school in Jackson County.  The tests were given to grades 3-10 in April.  Students must pass the EOC final exams in order to receive credit for that class.  

In news releases from DOE last week, officials said that although the tests were more difficult than in previous years, Panhandle students overall improved their scores from last year. DOE pointed out that most Florida schools had shown improvement from last year.  

At Marianna Middle School, almost all (93 percent) of the 8th grade Algebra I students performed above the state average score of 55.  Algebra I students at Grand Ridge (Middle) School also performed well; 88 percent of the Grand Ridge 8th graders made above average grades.  Students taking high school algebra at middle school level have tested into that class while in seventh grade.  This allows students to progress at a faster pace in high school.

There were some great scores out of Malone. In 3rd grade English Language Arts (ELA), 78 percent of Malone’s 4th grade students made above the average grade of 52. In 4th grade math, 92 percent of Malone students made above the state average score of 59. “Math” students in grades 3-8 all made above average scores.  History students at Malone also did well; 82 percent made above the average score of 66.

At Sneads High, all of the test results released last week showed above average scores; 9th grade ELA 59 percent above average, 10th grade ELA 51 percent, Algebra EOC 65 percent, Geometry EOC 52 percent, Algebra 2 EOC 52 percent, Biology EOC 67 percent and US History 75 percent. All the Sneads Elementary categories released last week were above average.

That’s some of the good news.  But at Marianna High School, all categories but one came in low. Coming in at below state average scores were 9th grade ELA (39 percent below state average); Algebra I End of Course (34 percent); Geometry (49 percent of the students had below average scores); Algebra 2 End of Course (25 percent); biology EOC (57 percent) and US History EOC (63 percent below average.) The end of course tests are marked as EOC; the FSA tests are listed by subject.  There were similar results at Graceville High School and Cottondale High.  At Graceville High, only the students in two categories: Civics (EOC) and 7th grade ELA, had scores above state average.  The US History students at Graceville High, 65 percent of them, graded below state average.  At Cottondale High, 64 percent on the Civics EOC test made below average scores, as did 58 percent of the US History students. 

Williams said administrators were meeting this week to compile a list of recommendations concerning the test results. 

Col. Kenneth Anderson (US Army Ret.) served 28 years’ active and reserve duty (1954-1982)

Kenneth Anderson chose the military right out of Marianna High School in 1950. After playing football, baseball and making the All State basketball team in his senior year for the Bulldogs of MHS, Anderson became a Florida Gator at the University of Florida in Gainesville as well as a member of ROTC, the Reserve Officers Training Corps. He joined the Army upon graduation from UF in August, 1954. 

Kenneth would end up serving in the US Army for 28 years, the first two years in active duty—beginning as a 2nd Lieutenant—and the remainder in the Army Reserve, where he eventually became a Colonel. The Malone native was not only lucky enough to miss the Korean War (1950-53) by one year; he embarked on a grand tour of post-World War II Europe during his first Army assignment as the heavy weapons platoon leader of “D Company.”  

Anderson was stationed at a former Nazi SS troop barracks in Munich, Germany in 1955.  “It was five stories high with a basement,” he explained at the TIMES offices last Thursday, June 9.  “It was large enough to house three battalions and a support group.  It had a name--Warner Kasern.”  Also during the 18-month tour of duty in Europe, Anderson got to spend time with his former roommate at the University of Florida—Marianna’s own Charlie Brown.  

“Charles Brown was stationed in Dachau, Germany and met me at the train depot,” Anderson explained.  “His unit occupied a portion of the former Dachau concentration camp where so many people were killed in gas chambers and then burned in the ovens.  We will always have Europe in our memories.  For our 18-month tours, we were stationed just nine miles apart.  We had opportunities to go on leave together to England, France, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Holland and Belgium.”

When Anderson’s short active duty stint was complete, he was able to begin a career in criminal justice that eventually became closely related to his Army Reserve duties.  After being hired as a state probation and parole officer and assigned to Pensacola, Kenneth married a Jackson County native, JoAnne Bevis, on Aug. 10, 1957.  In 1959, he was transferred to the Marianna office where June Sims was senior officer.  E.C. Welch was the circuit judge and Robert L. McCrary was still a county judge in those days.  Anderson was able to serve with “Capt. Charles Brown” again, as Brown was Commander of a Reserve unit in Chattahoochee.  They occasionally served together for summer camp at Fort Benning, Georgia.

Anderson was hired as a federal probation officer in 1962 for the US District Court in Tallahassee—and assigned to the 160th Military Police Battalion in the capital city. “Our mission was in the area of the rehabilitation of Army personnel convicted in the military court system,” Anderson explained.  “My civilian job was closely related.  In order to be a qualified military policeman, it was necessary to take courses and become a Military Police officer, leaving my infantry designation.

“I served as a correctional officer, the headquarters company commander and battalion commander,” Anderson said.  “As Bn Commander, I was responsible for MP line companies in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Ocala. We had two weeks’ summer training at Fort Campbell, Ky., Camp Shelby in Mississippi and at Fort Riley, Kansas.  In Fort Riley, Major Joe Cook was on the staff.  After his discharge, Major Cook had a long career with the Florida Department of Corrections and ended up in Marianna.”

Anderson also trained at the “United States Disciplinary Barracks,” also known as Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.  Also called the DB, the military correctional facility is located at Fort Leavenworth, an Army post in Kansas.  It’s one of three major prisons built on the post property. The others are the federal penitentiary named Leavenworth, located four miles to the south of the military facility, and the military’s Midwest Joint Regional Correctional Facility, built in 2010. “The military prison at Fort Leavenworth is an old cavalry post,” Anderson says. “It has a long history dating back to the original opening in 1874. It’s located on the west bank of the Missouri River.”

It helped with his reserve status that Anderson was a federal employee.  But there were still challenges.  “Federal employees are granted two-week leave for Active Duty training,” he explained. “In order to attend active duty for Command, you are required to use personal leave time.  Time management with work, family and military duty is sometimes difficult, but the retirement benefits including Tri-Care are very good.”

Anderson was promoted in both his military and federal government work.  “After completing my time with the 160th MP Bn,” Anderson explained, “I was assigned to the 400th MP Group as Executive Officer.  I was eligible for promotion to the grade of Colonel and at the same time, I was being considered as Chief US Probation Officer for the Northern District of Florida.  I was most fortunate to receive both promotions.”

Col. Anderson retired from the military in 1982 with 28 years of commissioned service.  When his old HQ Company, the 160th, was activated for Desert Storm in 1991, Kenneth attended his compatriots’ sendoff. On September 30, 1994, Anderson retired as Chief United States Probation Officer Northern District of Florida with a combined state and federal service of 37 years. His family returned to their home county of Jackson in December of 1994.

After a long battle with Parkinson’s, JoAnne died in July 2010 but Kenneth is able to enjoy their granddaughter Ellory, soon to be a senior at Marianna High School. She is the daughter of Kenneth and JoAnne’s daughter, Julie Anderson Fuqua. Julie’s husband is Jonathan Fuqua of Marianna and she serves as the Foundation Director for Chipola College.  

Kenneth, now 83, attends the First United Methodist Church of Marianna and still very much enjoys “The Florida Gator Teams,” as he calls them.  Charlie Brown will make sure he does.

Baptist College may be expanding to Marianna’s Blue Springs Center

The Baptist College of Florida is moving ahead with their plans to expand into Marianna at the Blue Springs Baptist Conference Center.  Although the Florida Baptist Convention has the long-vacant Marianna property listed for sale at a price ranging from $2 million to $4 million, the Convention’s board of directors last April decided to consider giving the growing Baptist College in Graceville permission to use the campus for an expansion. 

The Convention board “placed a hold on the marketing of Blue Springs Baptist Conference Center in Marianna to give the Baptist College of Florida, located in Graceville, an opportunity to develop a usage plan for the property if it were deeded over to the college.”  That is according to an article in the Florida Baptist Witness, the Convention’s newsletter.

In a press release issued last week by the college, BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen reported that the BCF board of trustees met in Graceville on June 2-3.  At that meeting, Kinchen explained that the college had requested that the “State Board of Missions” give the college an opportunity to conduct a feasibility study and present a plan for the use of the Marianna property.  That study has been completed and will be presented to the state board at its August 2016 meeting.  

“Thus far,” last week’s BCF press release said, “discussions have been held with a broad range of individuals and groups both inside the state convention and beyond.  Responses by all parties have been overwhelmingly positive toward the college developing the property as part of its overall program.  Trustees were told that most of the study had been completed, but that there are a few elements left to be addressed before a final plan can be presented.”

BCF’s plans are to present “the final feasibility report and vote on a formal request to be made to the state board at its meeting in August,” the news release continued.  “The recommendation from the president (at the BCF June meeting) was approved unanimously and enthusiastically by the BCF trustees.”  Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director/Treasurer Tommy Green was present at the June BCF meeting, the news release added.  

Also at the June meeting, the BCF trustees approved the 2016-17 operating budget for the college in the amount of $6.8 million, representing a 1.7 percent increase over the previous year.  BCF recently opened a new $1 million cafeteria and plans to break ground on a “major new Education Center later in 2016,” the news release said.  BCF is located on 250 acres on the east side of Graceville and has about 462 current undergraduate students. SportsPower International had an option to buy the Blue Springs Conference Center in 2015, but the deal was cancelled by SportsPower before a sale was made.  Located on 90 acres on the south side of the Indian Springs subdivision, the Blue Springs campus is valued at the property appraiser’s office at about $4 million, exempt.  BCF Public Relations Director Sandra Richards confirmed Tuesday afternoon that the college hopes to present a final plan for approval at the August state convention meeting.

BCF recently was ranked the 8th Best College in Florida for Online Courses. (The University of Florida was ranked #1.)  BCF also was named the “Safest College in Florida” by, a site devoted to public safety.  The BCF Education division was identified this year as being one of the top five schools in Florida offering degrees for students looking to become a teacher by  The Graceville college won a Best Value School award in April by University Research and Review. 

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